In Gulf oil spill, an image crisis for BP

*British Petroleum’s chief executive is Tony Hayward.

From the NYT:

Mr. Hayward is also well aware that his job could be on the line. His predecessor was removed three years ago after high-profile accidents in Texas and Alaska tarred BP’s reputation.

Mr. Hayward, 52, says he is hoping to turn the disaster into something of an advantage, showing the world that BP will make the biggest effort possible to protect the gulf environment and get to the bottom of what caused the rig explosion that killed 11 workers.

No one should be shocked that the CEO of an oil corporation is hoping to change a catastrophe like this in to some sort of marketing success, a ploy really.  The Chinese character for blah blah is success.  You know the execu-speak mantra.  The first sentence really dictates the rest: His job is on the line.

In interview after interview, Mr. Hayward repeatedly points to Transocean, the owner of the rig that exploded, as the company ultimately responsible for the damages. But at the same time, he is guaranteeing that BP will spare no efforts to clean up the mess.

Mr. Hayward said his primary task as chief executive during the crisis is to provide the “strategic direction, organizing resources, keeping the team focused — and being seen on the front line with the troops and communicating.”

Again, the first line is important.  That’s panic-speech.  BP contracts firms to make and maintain these rigs.  As a major corporation, it is BP’s responsibility to ensure they would not have to dump millions of dollars into a cleanup effort by enforcing rigorous safety protocols on anyone they contract to.

What about being seen on the front line?  Maybe because if the media associates him with success, he won’t lose his job?  Perhaps this is too conspiratorial.

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